“Emily’s House” is an enjoyable novel for adult readers of any age. But I view it as a book worthy of consideration for mature readers who may wish to learn more about the challenges teenagers may face in 21st Century America. Armstrong describes a child who grows up to age 16 coping with parents with alcoholism who have little regard or awareness of their teen’s needs. Though Emily must ultimately accept foster care, the author presents a most satisfying ending.
As Emily’s parents face eviction from their rented house and decide to move out of state, Emily must find a way to “fend for herself” and remain in the town she loves so much. Big-hearted Miss Mattie has already helped her to gain confidence in herself and to recognize she can’t control the behaviors of her parents but can envision a future she wants for herself. This surrogate mama also guides Emily into trusting other adults in her neighborhood. They fill the empty holes of Emily’s life. Into these relationships, Armstrong pours buckets of comedic moments.
As we live into our senior years, we may begin to be on the lookout for such a child as Emily, with so much to offer her society and such a will to succeed; a person who may need specific emotional or financial support.
Indeed, Emily with her strong will power and imagination, sets the example for us! Whether or not we seniors, have such a child in our lives, we’ll likely feel motivated to support youths one way or another. This can occur whether they are within our immediate circles or in wider circles where they are supported perhaps, by worthy social service agencies. Kudos to Armstrong for her deliberate and well-formed depiction of Emily. She tells her story so convincingly that Emily becomes a character we won’t forget.
by Sharon Armstrong
Living Springs Publishers, 2021
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